MTSU’s Baldwin Gallery Exhibit Showcases Effort to Preserve Baltimore’s Architectural History

A Maryland-based photographer and archivist is bringing his eye for detail to MTSU’s renowned Baldwin Photographic Gallery for a new exhibit, “Baltimore: Block by Block, Work in Progress …,” featuring more than 40 striking examples of the city’s architectural history.

James Singewald’s exhibit opened Sept. 16, and will be on display weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Thursday, Oct. 28, in Room 269 of the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, 1735 Blue Raider Drive.

Gallery and lecture guests must wear masks and observe appropriate distancing and other posted MTSU health safety protocols. The Baldwin Gallery is located at the top of the stairwell in the Bragg Building’s interior courtyard.

A campus parking map is available at http://bit.ly/MTSUParking. Off-campus guests visiting the Baldwin Gallery should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at https://www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

The Baldwin Gallery connected with Singewald with the help of MTSU photography professor Jonathan Coulter Trundle, who’s known him since the two were at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Singewald’s “obsessive collection of mapping, archiving and memorializing Baltimore,” as he puts it, began 13 years ago while he was a graduate student there.

“My graduate thesis was encapsulated in the form of a self-published book titled ‘Old Town, East Baltimore,’ which specifically focused on the failed urban renewal project in East Baltimore known as Old Town Mall, formerly Gay Street,” Singewald says.

“The failure of this project left the area a desolate two-block pedestrian mall. By photographing each of the buildings on the mall, I essentially created a historical document of what is left of the neighborhood after decades of decline.”

He also turned his photographs into an opportunity to talk with lifelong residents and business owners to help understand the mall’s history and learn about — and share — the residents’ hopes for its renewal.

Over the last decade, the project has grown into a larger work, “Baltimore: A History, Block by Block,” with Singewald photographing 10 main streets in Baltimore and more than 100 city blocks to date. He uses a 4-by-5-inch view camera and Fujichrome Velvia slide film to further showcase the “melancholic nostalgia, romanticization and ramification of the obsolete” in Baltimore’s historic buildings.

Singewald plans to create a series of photographic books and lectures on Baltimore’s architecture and a comprehensive, open-source, free digital archive of his photos and research to the public.

More information about Singewald’s work is available at his website, https://www.jsingewald.com.

The MTSU exhibit features 43 of Singewald’s striking color prints and a limited-edition artist’s copy of his book, “Old Town, East Baltimore.”

MTSU’s Baldwin Photographic Gallery is part of the university’s College of Media and Entertainment. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays when MTSU classes are in session.

For more information about MTSU’s Baldwin Photographic Gallery, visit https://baldwinphotogallery.com or https://www.facebook.com/BaldwinPhotoGallery. To learn more about the College of Media and Entertainment, visit https://mtsu.edu/media.

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